I suppose it was inevitable that the Snowden revelations would lead to greater interest in privacy and anonymity. I applaud that. I suppose it was also inevitable that there would be a rash of commercial products emerging from both “entrepreneurs” and the more established “security” companies to take advantage of that increased interest. That, I confess, I am less happy with.
El Reg reports that AV firm AVG (purveyor of antivirus and internet security products for most platforms) “reckons the market for products that safeguard online freedoms will be huge.”
El Reg’s report quotes Siobhan MacDermott, chief policy officer at AVG as being “astonished by the reaction to the scandal of the web-snooping NSA PRISM project.” (You have to ask why….)
The report goes on to say that MacDermott “predicted a world in which consumers were obsessed with protecting their own digital communications from prying eyes, as well as making sure their kids aren’t press-ganged into handing over reams of sensitive data to fraudsters and other undesirables.”
It goes on:
“MacDermott has been in discussions with five major banks, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, about how best to tackle this emerging market. She asked them to estimate the size of the burgeoning privacy sector – and they had no idea.”
(Smell the money….)
MacDermott reportedly “asked [the Banks] to size up the privacy market and all five told me that although they knew it was huge, they couldn’t yet give me a proper estimate of its size. They were super-excited though, because there are a lot of new companies popping up in this space.”
(So, lots of money….)
She went on: “My argument is that privacy will soon rival cyber-security in terms of market share. It’s about device control and protecting the online experience. It’s a nascent industry, so we’re still in the awareness phase and initial products phase. It’s going to be a big industry.”
(What, even bigger than the “Cyber Security” bandwagon? Oh boy. Lots and lots of money.)
So expect lots of new advertising for “privacy enhancing products” to protect you from “snoopers”.
Oh look, here’s one.
A company called Ninjastik is selling USB sticks with lubuntu preloaded, and what appears to be the tor browser bundle included. You can buy an 8 Gig stick for $56.95 or a 16 Gig stick for $69.95. And, for a limited time only, you get free shipping. Bargain.
I worry that anyone would go to the trouble of creating what is effectively a paid alternative to the free tails distribution provided by the (very clueful) guys at the torproject. I worry even more when the FAQ on the site says that no bittorrent client is included because:
“torrents use up a huge amount of bandwidth and will overwhelm the TOR network. Because of this, the NinjaStik does not come with a torrent client installed. You could install one yourself, but most exit server operators block torrent traffic anyway.”
With no mention that the bittorrent protocol leaks IP address information and can destroy your anonymity. This suggests that the builder may be somewhat less clueful than the guys over at the torproject.
I guess I just don’t understand free market capitalism that well either. After all, I fund two tails mirrors out of my own money when apparently I could be flogging USB sticks with the (free) tor browser bundle on for about 50 quid each (given the normal USD to UKP exchange rate for tech products.)